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Why be the "bigger person"?

 
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amother




Denim


Post  Thu, Jan 11 2018, 9:31 pm
I often see this line used when dealing with someone difficult that you should just "be the bigger person". To me that sounds like being a shmatta. I will not "be the bigger person" with someone who doesn't deserve it. And guess what? People know not to mess with me and I don't get taken advantage of. And while I'm sure some people think I'm a b*****, the people who matter don't think so and I have plenty of excellent healthy relationships in my life, especially where it matters (husband, kids, parents, siblings). And I have zero toxic relationships in my life because I shut garbage down real fast. I just don't get why one should ever "be the bigger person" and let the idiots in their lives get away with stuff. Can someone please explain what is to be gained from it? It's a serious question and I'd really like to know more about this perspective.
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amother




Beige


Post  Thu, Jan 11 2018, 9:41 pm
amother wrote:
I often see this line used when dealing with someone difficult that you should just "be the bigger person". To me that sounds like being a shmatta. I will not "be the bigger person" with someone who doesn't deserve it. And guess what? People know not to mess with me and I don't get taken advantage of. And while I'm sure some people think I'm a b*****, the people who matter don't think so and I have plenty of excellent healthy relationships in my life, especially where it matters (husband, kids, parents, siblings). And I have zero toxic relationships in my life because I shut garbage down real fast. I just don't get why one should ever "be the bigger person" and let the idiots in their lives get away with stuff. Can someone please explain what is to be gained from it? It's a serious question and I'd really like to know more about this perspective.


I used to think it is good to be the bigger person"" but after doing that I realized that I was taken advantage of and now ppl. Treat me as a schmatta so it is hard to turn around these toxic relationships as I started being tough and sticking up for myself but they wont accept no and dont care how I feel. "I was burned "" by my chesed for them. Im disgusted that these same ppl. Who preach about honesty and chesed will then treat me as a schmata and then will be dishonest when I ask them why they are taking advantage of me, theyll deny it.
So I agree with you.
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amother




Ginger


Post  Thu, Jan 11 2018, 9:44 pm
Good question. My mother really drilled it into me that in all situations the right thing was to be the bigger person and keep the peace. And for most of my adult life I never even questioned it. It was what nice people do.

At some point I guess I finally met someone horrible enough to make me question this approach and really think about whether this is some sort of virtue or not.

For my mother's part, I think I understand why she had this philosophy. She grew up in a very small family, the child of survivors, and you'd think after everything they'd been through they would cling to the little family that also survived but instead there was constant fighting and craziness and my mother grew up in this horrible dysfunction of family members constantly warring and cutting each other out. I think she was determined to never ever ever have this chaos in her life and so she bent to everyone all the time to keep the peace. No matter what kind of nastiness or abuse a SIL or aunt or so-called friend or neighbor through her way she would "rise above" and "go along" and "be the bigger person".

Me, I'm over it. I can take a lot, but I've got my breaking point. I have no need to be the bigger person in all situations.
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southernbubby









  


Post  Thu, Jan 11 2018, 10:02 pm
I would depend on how much the relationship means to me. For my family, I would give in and be the bigger person. Let my husband be right. Never fight with a married child or in-law child. Let them be right.

I don't hang on, anymore, to toxic friendships. I had to learn to phase out advantage takers but that took doing because somehow, I naturally attracted them. After awhile, I realized that it took less effort to get rid of them then to try and please them and I saw nothing to gain by pleasing advantage takers so I really don't have any major manipulators in my life currently but I used to have loads of them. It was, however, the avodah of a lifetime.
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seeker









  


Post  Thu, Jan 11 2018, 10:34 pm
I don't think being the bigger person means that you need to turn yourself into a doormat. You can set boundaries and still be on the high road. I think a big part is internal work - doing what you do because of who you want to be, and not because of what anyone else does to you. For example, in a toxic relationship "stooping to their level" could mean throwing insults and slander back at them, while "being the bigger person" might mean disengaging from the relationship with dignity and respect.

Of course it needs to be done with "seichel" but in my experience, some of which was very very difficult, the benefits of taking the high road far outweighed whatever short-term gratification I might have chosen instead.
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mom4many









  


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 2:30 am
I’ll demonstrate with a few examples.

What if your teenager is going through a rough time? They hurl insults and lots of frustration at you. You decide how to deal with it from a chinuch perspective, but are you going to stop caring for your teenager? You might sometimes feel like a Shmatta the way they’re treating you, but you choose to demonstrate calmness and strength and wait for the phase to pass hopefully.

It can happen with a parent that is becoming more bitter by the day. Of course you have to set limits so it won’t pervade your entire life, but you should try to help them where you can, despite their being nasty.

And if it’s your husband who’s going through a rough time & is somewhat depressed for being unemployed for example, and he’s not as nice (not talking about abusive), you can be the bigger person & try to help & cheer him up. Of course the situation could ch”v deteriorate and you have to rethink the situation, or he could snap back out of it.

But you’re right - absolutely no reason to have a friend that is toxic.
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Jewishfoodie









  


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 8:29 am
Isn't "being the bigger person" also known as Vatranus? I don't associate it at all with being taken advantage of? It's a kindness that is admirable to Hashem.

I'm the last person on the planet who thinks that anyone should be in or facilitate a toxic relationship but I don't believe that one is impossible to be without the other. You can always be the bigger person just by taking the high road and not "stooping to peoples' low levels' but why does that make it a thing to be taken advantage of? If someone's being nasty to you, by all means, get away. But why get in" the mud" with "the pigs" when you can so easily walk "around the pig pen"?

It's awesome to be mevater. But not to your detriment.
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mandksima









  


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 9:10 am
Being the bigger person has nothing to do with taking abuse or enduring toxic relationships.

It can apply when you take away your anger at someone attacking your ego and see what Hashem is sending you, what you could learn from it and how he wants you to treat the other person - who is always the messenger from Hashem anyway. Hashem never sends annoying, rude or inconsiderate people to you for no reason. It is always to better your middot somehow if you are open to it. If you are just angry, you miss the growth opportunity.

We can always treat someone with dignity and politeness, which says what we are made up of and not how they deserve to be treated. Think how a tzaddik would respond to this person. Perhaps they would try to see how the mean person must be hurting inside and will daven for them. They don't show anger or disgust but feel pity for them which turns to love. Being the bigger person can mean this exactly - feeling pity which takes BIG self control rather than anger which even a toddler is capable of and doesn't show any restraint and improving our middot.
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southernbubby









  


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 9:36 am
mandksima wrote:
Being the bigger person has nothing to do with taking abuse or enduring toxic relationships.

It can apply when you take away your anger at someone attacking your ego and see what Hashem is sending you, what you could learn from it and how he wants you to treat the other person - who is always the messenger from Hashem anyway. Hashem never sends annoying, rude or inconsiderate people to you for no reason. It is always to better your middot somehow if you are open to it. If you are just angry, you miss the growth opportunity.

We can always treat someone with dignity and politeness, which says what we are made up of and not how they deserve to be treated. Think how a tzaddik would respond to this person. Perhaps they would try to see how the mean person must be hurting inside and will daven for them. They don't show anger or disgust but feel pity for them which turns to love. Being the bigger person can mean this exactly - feeling pity which takes BIG self control rather than anger which even a toddler is capable of and doesn't show any restraint and improving our middot.



For me, it meant defining what I was willing to do and feel fine about what I was not willing to do. I agree that it is a bigger refinement of midos when a person can choose to feel pity rather than anger, when people totally dismiss your feelings.

It also meant defining that my value as a person had nothing to do with how many people that I managed to please and that it was better to agree to do a little happily than a lot begrudgingly.
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keym









  


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 9:58 am
mom4many wrote:
I’ll demonstrate with a few examples.

What if your teenager is going through a rough time? They hurl insults and lots of frustration at you. You decide how to deal with it from a chinuch perspective, but are you going to stop caring for your teenager? You might sometimes feel like a Shmatta the way they’re treating you, but you choose to demonstrate calmness and strength and wait for the phase to pass hopefully.

It can happen with a parent that is becoming more bitter by the day. Of course you have to set limits so it won’t pervade your entire life, but you should try to help them where you can, despite their being nasty.

And if it’s your husband who’s going through a rough time & is somewhat depressed for being unemployed for example, and he’s not as nice (not talking about abusive), you can be the bigger person & try to help & cheer him up. Of course the situation could ch”v deteriorate and you have to rethink the situation, or he could snap back out of it.

But you’re right - absolutely no reason to have a friend that is toxic.


This. Its very easy to say dont stand for toxic people, cut them out etc.
But what if that difficult person is your child, your spouse, your parent. And I dont mean abusive.
When your 9 yr old goes through a horrible stage, nasty bitter and even personal, you can be the bigger person by choosing to love and care for the hurt child and not respond to the angry child whos yelling "you suck mommy I hate you." Unless you think you should cut this toxic person from your life?
Same in marriage when your spouae is going through a bad patch at work and is angry bitter and negatice. Creating a tense environment. Do you cut him loose or take the higher path when hes growling "why ia there never any fresh bread around here" because hes so down or depressed.
Pr when your parent chv loses their vivacity or lucidity. Are you that big of a b*tch that you cut them and run.

Then there are difficult people that you need to take the higher road or you lose out. I remember a thread a while back about a woman who was very harsh to her cleaning lady, proudly not to be taken advantage. Well her cleaning lady left leaving her stranded. So sometimes people make the choice to swallow and be the bigger person for the greater good.
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amother




Salmon


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 10:17 am
Op, I don't get what you mean by"bigger person". I get it's not weight related.
Can you give an example or two where "bigger person" comes into play?
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amother




Denim


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 10:33 am
See, I don't think it counts when you're referring to family. First of all, my tolerance level is a lot higher for people I love. Secondly, I don't see it as "being bigger" by not dishing it out to family when they do something I don't like- that's just called being a good parent, a good spouse, and kibbud av vaem, it's nothing special really. But I have had more distant family members, friends, neighbors, acquaintances etc who I have dished it out to when they deserved it. I don't feel I owed those people any consideration. And I've never lost out by "stooping" to their level. Either they learned not to cross me, or to stay away from me entirely. I call that a win-win.
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relish









  


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 10:39 am
I thought that being the bigger person means that you see the other person acting in a way that is attacking (fight or flight response, the medulla is working overtime, and person can't be reasonable), notice it, and choose to actively remain in calm and safe state (keeping your frontal brain/upstairs brain/developed brain on).

By you remaining in this state, you are doing a chessed for this person by not only keeping yourself calm and safe, but by shifting them out of fight or flight, and bringing them to their higher self.


So, for example:
Chold comes home from school and is annoyed that dinner isn't ready, so I he expresses that annoyance in a not-so-nice comment. When you take the time to realize that he is not using his "upstairs brain" at the moment, you are actually using yours. By looking at him with love, presenting with an open body posture, and stating "you just made a hurtful comment to me", you are allowing his brain to shift back into the upstairs brain.

The child can then begin to understand on his own what he did wrong, and as the shift happens, he can feel safe to feel the negative feelings about what he has done.

This is a huge chessed to do. We don't have the energy and resources to provide the time and effort necessary to provide that safe environment for difficult people in our lives. That's where limiting interactions comes into play.

That's my view on being the bigger person. It also means that we must work on ourselves constantly to keep ourselves in that "upstairs brain" headspace.

Based on what I learned in the book "no-drama discipline" by dan Siegel and Tina Payne bryson.
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Squishy









  


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 11:33 am
amother wrote:
See, I don't think it counts when you're referring to family. First of all, my tolerance level is a lot higher for people I love. Secondly, I don't see it as "being bigger" by not dishing it out to family when they do something I don't like- that's just called being a good parent, a good spouse, and kibbud av vaem, it's nothing special really. But I have had more distant family members, friends, neighbors, acquaintances etc who I have dished it out to when they deserved it. I don't feel I owed those people any consideration. And I've never lost out by "stooping" to their level. Either they learned not to cross me, or to stay away from me entirely. I call that a win-win.


Perhaps people see you as difficult. I have neighbors who also never let anything go. I avoid those people because they aren't easy. They get a hello and a smile. No, they don't get respect.

I also have outright crazy neighbors. They also get hellos and smiles. I NEVER engage with them. The difficult neighbors will.

I can't be part of difficult or crazy. In a neighborhood, it is good to not see everything and keep a chesbon.

In other situations, just avoid them. I don't deal with toxic people which includes standing up to them.
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andrea levy









  


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 11:54 am
I think being the bigger person means doing the right thing, whatever that may be, instead of something that is obviously wrong. For example, insulting someone outright is small. Constructive criticism, when appropriate is big. Being polite and saying nicely what you need to, is being the bigger person instead of just freaking out and doing something you’ll need to apologize for.
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amother




Sienna


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 2:54 pm
op forgive me for saying so but your posts are written with a lot of anger
you seem angry at the thought of having to be the bigger person
you call other people 'idiots'
you talk about "dishing it out"
you are not speaking like someone who is being confidently assertive coming from a healthy place
you sound like you are reacting to something/someone
Is it possible you were taken advantage of in the past and now you're overcompensating?
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happyone









  


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 3:03 pm
God please grant me the strength and courage to be "the bigger person". That's all I can ask for.
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happyone









  


Post  Fri, Jan 12 2018, 3:06 pm
And to OP, you sound like you're having a rough day. Can I treat you to some chocolate and a latte ?
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amother




Orchid


Post  Sat, Jan 13 2018, 1:43 pm
There are some people who look at every interaction as a win-lose situation and feel that they have to win. Being the bigger person means focusing on getting to a good resolution. It means taking your ego out of the equation. You need a certain level of security and maturity to step back like that.
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